Flour Power: Upgrade Your Recipes
A Bite-Size Read for Your Health and Your Waistline
You may not be a big baker or a chef, fair enough. But do you ever buy baked goods? Or read a food label? Thought so. That means understanding flour substitutes is relevant for most of us! Often gluten-free, low-carb, keto, paleo, whole 30, whatever it is, all of those packaged foods or recipes are using these alternative ingredients. It’s helpful to understand them, what they’re offering us, and if cooking, how to adapt our favorite recipes to be a bit more healthful.
Almond Flour is made from ground almonds and has a slightly nutty flavor. It’s protein rich and is probably one of the most nutrient dense of the flour substitute options. It’s gluten-free, packed with protein, vitamins, calcium, quality fat and a little fiber. Using almond flour helps lower the carbohydrates in the food and helps you lower the glycemic impact of the recipe — glycemic impact being how likely it is to spike your blood sugar. Pro tips for using almond flour: If a recipe calls for 1 Cup of all-purpose flour, replace it with ⅓ Cup of almond flour. This will help with the nutty flavor and the texture. Almond flour is a little denser than regular flour, which means a 1:1 ratio replacement will probably make your product a little chewy.
Chickpea Flour is similar to almond flour in its nutrients. It adds tons of protein, lowers the carbohydrates and offers the fiber and the micronutrients that our body needs. It binds and gives a solid texture to baked goods, so it’s great for bread, muffins and cakes. It’s also super easy to swap and doesn’t require alterations to a recipe. The caveat here is, you must cook it. Uncooked, it tastes like…well, chickpeas.
Coconut Flour is made from dried coconuts. It’s high in protein, fiber and fat which also translates to being low glycemic impact! It’s less likely to spike your blood sugar, which is a win because we know that our blood sugar dictates if we’re storing fat. Tips for using that coconut flour: use a quarter to a third of the flour called for in the recipe. If you’re replacing all-purpose flour with coconut flour, it is super absorbent. So it’s part of why we’re going to use less and it also might require that you add extra liquid; that might be extra eggs, or water, so the food isn’t dry or flaky in the end. Remember coconut flour does give a little bit of a coconut flavor. Depending on the rest of the recipe, this might taste odd. Choose carefully when to use coconut flour, if that flavor will work for you.
Banana Flour might be new to you. Some gluten-free products use it. Like bananas, it can give you those resistant starches, which in the body acts a little bit like soluble fiber. It’s better raw, so this is one that you may not want to cook. Perhaps use it in a smoothie and add a little extra water or liquid of some kind. Otherwise, the banana flour will make it pretty thick. If you are going to bake it, do not use a one to one ratio to regular flour; use ¾ of a cup of banana flour for every cup of all-purpose flour in a recipe. It can be a little denser than all-purpose flour, so best to use it in muffins or breads.
Now you have the tools and know-how to dominate at bake sales! Understanding these ingredients also helps reading those gluten-free/paleo/keto/whole 30 friendly packaged foods. And when everybody else starts to talk about banana flour, you can say, “Yeah, I’ve known about it for a while.”